The following editorial appeared in The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre:
Hand ’em notebooks and No. 2 pencils, push them out the door and — whew — breathe a sigh of relief. Their teachers are in charge now, right?
In only a matter of days, certain parents and other guardians of school-age children across Northeastern Pennsylvania might be tempted to seize on the widespread misconception that the start of a new school year signals the end of major caretaking responsibilities.
Sorry, moms and dads. Your commitment doesn’t end — at least, it shouldn’t end — in late August at the bus stop.
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If you want your sons and daughters to reach their potentials, it’s important to be involved in their educational lives from the kindergarten jitters straight through their senior-year jubilation, ensuring they arrive for classes on time, make friends and perform to the best of their abilities on homework and exams.
This responsibility shouldn’t come as any surprise to you, nor should it cause anxiety. The task isn’t rocket science (or, for that matter, algebra I). Plenty of solid tips for back-to-school season, and parenting advice for the entire school year, can be obtained by talking with your school’s administrators and fellow parents, especially those involved in parent-teacher groups, or by doing an online search.
This month, for example, Parents magazine offers topics ranging from “How to Prevent Sick Days” to preparing easy school lunches. (For those subjects, plus “20 Smart Back-to-School Tips and Ideas,” visit www.parents.com/kids/education/back-to-school.)
Meanwhile, the National Safety Council touts precautions on everything from playgrounds to backpacks. Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides a laundry list of back-to-school advice that’s worth scanning, whether your child is in the SpongeBob stage or idolizes singer Demi Lovato. Among its suggestions: “Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.”
Don’t overlook your local school district’s website; it has vital information, such as the full school-year calendar and district-specific policies.
Attend school open houses and orientation sessions, too. Plenty of public school districts are offering introductory programs this week and next, encouraging parents to get information first-hand and to become involved in the school. Have you joined a parent-teacher group? Why not?
You don’t need to be the parent who constantly hovers. But for your child’s sake, and to encourage his or her future success, you should be one of the many who partners with the school, supporting its teachers, not simply counting on them to care for your kids until June.